Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Canada Winter Activities

Canada winter activities will help you enjoy the Canadian winter. Yes, temperatures can be sub-zero, and yes, there is snow, but that's half the fun.

From the unusual, like dog-sledding to the more traditional winter activities, such as skiing and skating, winter is a great time to visit Canada, especially for the adventurous. Also, Canada boasts some of the world's best and biggest winter festivals.

Try one of these 10 ways to enjoy the Canadian winter and you won't believe how good a mug of hot chocolate or glass of mulled red wine tastes afterwards.

1. Visit One of Canada's Famous Ski Resorts
Blackcomb / Whistler ski resort in British Columbia and site of the nordic events of the 2010 Winter Olympics; Banff & Lake Louise outside of Calgary, Alberta; and Mont-Tremblant, 90 mins north of Montreal in Quebec, are the three most famous ski destinations in Canada, though there are many more. These resorts are excellent by any standard – long runs, sharp drop offs, and spectacular scenery plus a range of activities, such as heliskiing and glacier skiing.
Read Top 10 Ski / Snowboard Resorts in Canada

2. Stay in the Quebec Ice Hotel, just outside Quebec City
The ultimate winter experience! The Quebec Ice Hotel is spectacular to behold and one of the most unique visitor experiences in the world. The cathedral-like hotel is carved entirely of ice, including the furniture and even ice candelabras hanging from the 18 ft ceilings.
Quebec Ice Hotel is rebuilt each year, opening its doors from January to the beginning of April. The walls are 4 feet thick and insulate the hotel to a crisp but comfortable 28° to 23° Fahrenheit (-2° to –5° Celsius). Visitors may choose to just pass through for a tour and a drink at the ice bar or stay overnight.
Find out what it's like to stay at the Quebec Ice Hotel.

3. Take the Kids to Québec Winter Carnival, Quebec City
The habitants of New France, now Quebec, had a rowdy tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry.
Today, the Québec Winter Carnival is the biggest winter carnival in the world and is celebrated annually at the end of January until mid-February. The event is staged largely for families to enjoy and they come out in droves to embrace and celebrate the cold. Aside from accommodation, a trip to Québec Winter Carnival costs relatively little in that one $10 pass per person gets the holder access to most activities.

4. Skate the Rideau Canal, Ottawa
Every winter, Ottawa's Rideau Canal becomes the The Rideau Canal Skateway and at 7.8 km (just under 5 miles) the world's largest skating rink. Locals and visitors make the most of this frozen roadway in winter, using it both as a means of transportation and form of recreation.
Fast facts:
- Skateway generally opens in January/Feburary when the canal is sufficiently frozen and safe for skaters.
- Skate rental and sharpening and boot check are available.
- Also available for rent are sleighs in which children can sit and adults can push along the canal.
- Check the Rideau Canal Skateway website for details.

5. Visit Winterlude, Ottawa
Canadians celebrate sub-zero temperatures and waist-high snowdrifts by staging great winter festivals, such as Ottawa's Winterlude. For the first three weekend's every February, the nation's capital puts on a winter festival that features ice-skating on the world's longest rink, ice sculptures, a snow playground, concerts and more.
Check out the Winterlude Visitors Guide for dates and details.

6. Go Dogsledding
Dogsledding is one of the more memorable Canadian adventures. Whether you want to spend a few days or weeks in the outback or just try it for an afternoon, dogsledding is an activity available most anywhere in Canada that gets lots of snow.
- Call of the Wild is an award-winning, established adventure team that offers dogsledding excursions and year-round adventures.
- Dog Sled Canada is a resource for finding dogsled outfitters countrywide as well as winter camping and snowshoeing.

7. Take a Winter Rail Vacation, Vancouver - Calgary
Sit back and soak up the majesty of the Canadian Rockies. Rocky Mountaineer offers spectacular Canadian Winter Train Vacations that range from the leisurely to the downright luxurious. Vacations include train travel to/from Vancouver/Calgary, transportation to and between Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise plus opportunity to explore some of the magnificent scenery and two great Canadian cities.

8. Try Snowshoeing
Once used by trappers and traders traversing the snow-covered terrain, snowshoeing today is mostly a form of winter recreation. Contemporary lightweight snowshoes make this traditional form of winter travel easier - and more fun - than ever.
Snowshoeing is both a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors and an effective and gentle form of exercise. Many ski resorts and winterized lodges provide or rent snowshoes for casual outings, or try a more challenging overnight adventure - maybe stay in an igloo. The truly adventurous may want to go Heli Snowshoeing, where clients are taken to beautiful and remote locations.

9. Go Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is a magnificent way to enjoy the Canadian winter and commune with nature. Not only does Canada offer the necessary climate, but it has a huge array of excellent resorts and lodges that range from basic to luxury. Canada is one of the most popular ice fishing destinations and overall, you'll find the quality of accommodation and hospitality high. Just be smart about choosing your location and be sure you have the degree of comfort you want.
Canada Ice Fishing Lodges, Resorts, and Outfitters Guide
Tips for Ice Fishing in Canada

10. Enjoy one of Canada's Many Winter Light Festivals
Canadians don't hibernate over winter. We create reasons to get out and enjoy the outdoors. One way is with light festivals, which occur across the country.
- Winter Festival of Lights, Niagara Falls
- Christmas Lights across Canada, Ottawa
- Toronto Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto
- Vancouver Festival of Lights, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver
- Airdrie Festival of Lights, Airdrie (35 km or 22 miles from Calgary)
- The Montreal High Lights Festival includes wining and dining as well as a Celebration of Light festival.

Article written by Jane McLean, About.com Guide

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